cat reading the news

San Mateo, Calif. and Maidenhead, UK based Alfresco has been bought by Boston-based private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners for an undisclosed sum. Alfresco is an open source, ECM and business process management developer that started out in the UK before moving to the U.S.. It provides enterprise content management solutions that enable clients to retain, manage, and share documents, files and processes across cloud, mobile, hybrid and on-premise environments. A statement that accompanied the sale said it currently powers the work of 11 million people in 1300 companies.

Its not entirely clear what this purchase is about. For THL is a good buy. Alfresco has consistently shown itself capable of adopting to new market realities in the information management and digital workplace space and there have been consistent rumors that the company was moving to the U.S. with its eyes on an IPO. What is not clear from this is what market the statement refers to. Both the digital workplace and enterprise content management (ECM) are, if anything, oversubscribed in terms of companies that are operating in it.

However, to compete in this space Alfresco needs money and THL has literally billions. THL has raised over $22 billion of equity capital, acquired over 140 portfolio companies and completed over 360 add-on acquisitions since it was founded in 1974. It also has a reputation for investing in and expanding the companies it buys so, again, for Alfresco, it looks like a good move. Its certainly an interesting acquisition in a market that is already in turmoil as it struggles to keep up with innovations in the cloud, artificial intelligence and machine learning. We’ll be looking at this in more detail soon.

LogMeIn Buys Jive Communications

It wasn’t the only move in the enterprise collarboation space recently. Earlier this week, Boston-based LogMeIn, which offers a range of online services to businesses including meeting rooms and authentication capabilities, announced that it is buying Jive Communications for $342 million in cash plus up to $15 million based on reaching specific milestones in the next two years.

Jive Communications should not be confused with Jive Software, which itself was bought out for $462 million by Aurea. Jive Communications is a Utah-based startup that has raised $31 million since it was founded in 2006, which begs the question as to why LogMeIn paid $342 million for it. Its all about unified communications. With Jive Communications, LogMeIn gets a bunch of communications services that it can add its existing collaboration offerings as well, of course, as Jive’s 20,000 customers. The acquisition takes place against a backdrop of market changes that have seen enterprises moving to VoIP and hosted VoIP over the past couple of years.

“We believe the combination of Jive’s award-winning voice, video, contact center and mobile applications with our leading collaboration products, GoToMeeting and join.me, will give LogMeIn one of the best and most comprehensive UCC offerings in the market. The result is a deal that will accelerate our overall growth, set a new standard in the UCC market, and provide us with a foundation upon which we’ll build the next generation of LogMeIn’s UCC portfolio,” Bill Wagner, President and CEO of LogMeIn said in a statement about the deal.

Following the close of the transaction, it is expected that John Pope, the CEO of Jive Communications, will continue to run the Jive Communications business, reporting directly to Bill Wagner. The deal is expected to close in Q2 of this year.

Google Drive’s Microsoft Challenge

Meanwhile, Mountain View, California based Google is launching an update to Google Drive that will make it easier for teams and agencies to use a mix of G Suite and Microsoft Office while working with their colleagues and customers. With this update, Google Drive users can now easily comment on Office files, PDFs and images stored outside Drive. 

According to a blog from Google, the company is making it possible to comment directly on more file types including Microsoft Office files, PDFs and images without having to convert them into Docs, Sheets or Slides. The blog post adds, “When you're collaborating with an external agency, negotiating a contract with a client or coordinating a sales agreement with a supplier, chances are you're dealing with multiple file formats. With this update, you can now comment on those files in Drive the way you're used to in Google Docs.”

You could be fooled into thinking that this is a clever ploy to steal some of Office 365’s thunder, but its way to early in the game for Google to be thinking like that. What this does, though, is to make it easier for Office 365 and G Suite to co-exist in the enterprise and ironing out the difficulties of having to convert and adapt documents stored in Office 365 into Docs, Sheets or Slides to access them. Nor is this a first such move. There is already some interoperability between the two. You can use a Drive plug-in for Outlook to make it easier to insert files stored in Drive to an Outlook email and save incoming attachments to your Drive from Outlook. 

Its another small step forward for Google and its ambitions to push G Suite deeper into the enterprise space although for the moment at least, the position of Office 365 and the Office apps seem unassailable.

Microsoft Goes Fishing With OneDrive

Redmond. Washington based Microsoft, of course, is not letting the grass grow under its feet either. It has announced recently that it is trying to poach the customers of other cloud services by offering its own cloud products for free as part of a new promotion that started this week and runs until the end of June. The offer is not just targeting Google — although for Microsoft that would be the sweet spot —  its also targeting corporate customers of providers like Box, Dropbox with a deal that would let them move to Microsoft’s file share and storage service OneDrive.

The deal, which remains active until June 30th of this year, will let corporate customers of competing enterprise software suites to switch to OneDrive, with Microsoft waiving the bill until a business pays off its existing contract

Microsoft also says its dedicated FastTrack team will work with any new customers to help migrate businesses to OneDrive and Office 365. The deal is only valid for businesses that are not currently customers and are willing to commit to a 500-user minimum.

According to Microsoft more than 350,000 organizations now have OneDrive, and the growth has been amazing. Just in 2017, OneDrive storage and file sync usage have both tripled

Build Dates Announced

Finally, this week Microsoft has confirmed the dates this year for its Build conference, its annual developer conference that happens in May. This time around it is happening between May 7th and May 9th.

This year’s conference will be particularly noteworthy, not least because Google’s developer I/O conference will be happening at the same time (May 8th to May 10th), but also because this year is a SharePoint year with the previews of the new 2019 edition expected in the coming months Build is always a good time to see what’s on the way. This year is unlikely to be an exception.